Most of us do what we can to decrease the impact our lifestyle has on the environment, and once you get into a groove you're always looking for ways to do more—and do better. That's the motivation behind "MyEarth—Track Your Carbon Savings," a new energy-tracking app that allows you to keep tabs on your energy consumption and watch your progress unfold in the most adorable way possible. (Which I'll get to in a minute.)
Designed by Nancy Wong, a professor of consumer science in the UW-Madison School of Human Ecology, the app is setup in a diary format, where users can choose from a variety of daily activities to reduce their carbon emissions and energy consumption.
The app is organized into five main categories: electricity, recycling, travel, food and usage. Each category includes everyday activities that vary in complication—everything from recycling a milk jug to upgrading to a high-efficiency toilet. "We tried to categorize it into different kinds of activities that you can do so that people can select from whatever suits their lifestyle," Wong said in a statement.
As you check off activities in your diary, you accumulate saved carbon units which are then translated into a visual picture that shows the difference you're making. And the visual couldn't possibly be any cuter: Research assistant Andrew Stevens came up with the idea of using a polar bear clinging to a small iceberg to represent the impact of your daily activities. (Say it with me now: "Awww!")
The more carbon units and energy saved, the bigger the iceberg gets—but if you cheat, say by throwing a can in the trash, the iceberg gets smaller. And since wanting to ruin a polar bear's life would mean you need an exorcist, you're of course going to put that can in the recycling where it belongs.
"The iceberg is going to grow and then eventually the bear can sit on it," said Wong. "I want it to grow organically, so that it gets bigger, so you can have another bear, so then you can have a bear family." Just the thought of how adorable that will be has my ovaries all aflutter.
With how impactful gaming apps have been for the fitness industry, it was only a matter of time before our love of technology met our love for the environment, helping us to prioritize energy-saving activities even more than we already do.
"There is a real disconnect between what people say that they want to do in terms of their attitudes toward the environment and conservation and translating that into actual behavior," said Wong. "Carbon units are too abstract for people to understand. Translating conservation behaviors into something tangible, such as a growing iceberg, could help."
Do you keep track of your energy consumption?
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